03 August 2012

Finding DNA Cousins with AncestryDNA

     I first explored the features available on AncestryDNA (reviewed here) and then started looking for matches.  Really getting into the system and exploring my matches expanded my "wish list" of features.

     Of my top 19 "Fourth Cousin" matches, there are no obvious connections.  I then clicked through the "Distant" matches on the first three pages of my results and quickly found three matches! I found two matches that had Shared Ancestor Hint, both of which seem to be correct.  Here's a screenshot of one of them:

     You'll note that we have a common ancestor. As in one person, not one couple. I don't know why the system would decide to only pick one person when both members of the couple match across both trees.  If both members of the couple show up in both trees (aka: no step-families), both members of the couple should be recommended as the common ancestors. The match does get you where you need to go though, so it's enough for now.

     You can click on any of the names of these ancestors to see how they appear in each family tree. Clicking on the common ancestor takes you to your own tree. This is helpful, but I would prefer to see a side by side comparison of this ancestor as shown in both family trees.

     A great feature is the relationship label. For each person in the tree, aside from yourself, there is a relationship given. So I know that the match is my 5th cousin, 1x removed and that our common ancestors are my 5x Great Grandparents. This is a feature not available on ftDNA nor 23andMe.

     As I mentioned before, there isn't really anywhere else to go from here. You can send a message to your match and converse with them, but all the work is done for you. It's a bit anticlimactic actually, as I'm used to there being more features available on other DNA websites. Some features I would like to see here include:

  • Chromosome/Segment viewer
  • Ability to see matches in common with other matches
  • Ability to add notes
  • Ability to agree/disagree with Shared Ancestor Hint or mark a match that is not suggested

     I also found a match with a user that did not have a Shared Ancestor Hint. As you can see from my notes in the image below, my Daniel Rich is the son of their Stephen Rich. However, I did not have Stephen listed in my tree. However my ancestor, Daniel, is listed in their tree. I wonder: Can the site only find connection on direct line ancestors? It did not connect my ancestor to their collateral line relative.  

     When I went back a few days later to review the matches I'd found, I found one other obvious feature that is missing: search.  There is no way to do a search (member name, surname) for a match. I've been marking my found member connection by "starring" them and keeping a list of matches on Thoughtboxes. If I don't do something like this, it will be very difficult to find a single matches out of 1000+.

     I still haven't fully explored the mapping features, which I think look promising. I'll talk about those soon.

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